A few of us had raised eyebrows when Swansea City confirmed that long serving player Gary Monk would take up the hot-seat permanently at the Liberty stadium. The club have gone from strength to strength under previous managers Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup. Winning promotion to the Premier League in 2011 and the League Cup in 2013 were superb highlights for the Swans.
But they continually lost their talented managers; Martinez and Rodgers were poached by bigger clubs and Laudrup fell out with the club’s board. After the Laudrup saga it felt like Swansea were heading for a bit of a decline. The appointment of Monk looked risky.
Could a novice thirty-five year old handle the pressures of the English Premier League?
Well Monk kept the Swans away from any real threat of relegation, finishing in a respectable twelfth spot. But then in the summer the Welsh side let go various talented, established stars such as Ben Davies, Michel Vorm, Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores and Michu (Plus Jonathan de Guzman returned to his parent club).
That left many holes in the squad and various pundits guessing Swansea were destined for the drop.
But the manager did well keeping a core group at the Liberty Stadium. Tying down captain Ashley Williams was ideal as he’s a terrific leader on the pitch, who’ll always give his all for the team. Hanging onto last seasons scoring sensation, Wilfried Bony was another bit of smart business as he always carries a threat. Then you add in the wing talents of Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge who will always provide for the frontmen. Plus you’ve got Jonjo Shelvey attacking from central midfield, capable of chipping in with important goals.
Gary Monk, his board and the clubs scouting team have also done a fantastic job rebuilding the squad with new recruits.
Bringing back Ki Sung-Yueng was extremely canny. The South Korean is a very intelligent midfielder who keeps the ball moving and can provide ammunition from set-pieces. I still can’t fathom just why Laudrup decided to loan out the former Celtic man to Sunderland last term but he has already shown he fits in well with this Swans squad. He likes nothing more than taking a chance from the edge of the box, just look at his goal against Man Utd.
Lukasz Fabianski has arrived relishing the prospect of becoming a number one. He would have wanted more opportunities at Arsenal but now has the chance to prove himself in the South of Wales. That hunger has already seen the Pole keep two cleansheets in the opening four league games!
South American defenders Federico Fernandez and Jefferson Montero have yet to make a great impact but they did make their respective countries World Cup squads this summer. Just having them in the pool adds great depth to the squad.
French striker Bafetimbi Gomis has a good history scoring in Ligue 1 and his combative style should cause defences problems.
The opening win of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford was impressive. Yes the United team that day wasn’t the best and was getting to grips with Louis van Gaal’s tactics but the Swans impressed with their determination not to just sit back and settle for a draw.
They also picked up wins over Burnley and WBA. Results that aren’t outstanding but its always a good sign when you pick up victories over the sides that could be seen as rivals.
Even the defeat at the hands to Chelsea had positives. They created chances, scored first and kept going to the end and managed a consolation strike.
Obviously times will get tougher for Swansea during this long season but it has started off well and they can build on that. With Gary Monk they have a young, enthusiastic boss who is learning all the time. He speaks well when in front of the cameras and seems to have already gained the respect of his players. Sometimes steady and consistent gains better results than flamboyance and anger.
A top ten finish would be sensational for Monk and his troops but not unimaginable!